A Guide to Managing Negative Attitudes in the Workplace

Emma Crupi Category-01

As a manager, it can be challenging to determine how best to deal with staff members that approach their jobs with a “half glass empty” mentality. Some workers will, of course, have bad days, but if this is happening often, as a manager, you will need to start addressing the problem. Employees that regularly arrive late, conduct jobs carelessly, are lazy, are rude to other employees or management, spread gossip, or engage in other behaviours that you deem detrimental to a strong workplace culture or environment are just a few examples of poor attitudes at work.

This blog article will provide you, the manager or employer, with a helpful guide on how to address and deal with negative workplace attitudes. It is crucial that unfavourable workplace habits be addressed as soon as they are noticed. Sophia Divirgilio, HR Advisor at HussetHR, says, “If management doesn’t take action against negative sentiments, unfortunately, a toxic environment can spread, and other workers may come to believe that similar attitudes are the norm.”

Why is a positive attitude important in the workplace?

While maintaining a positive attitude at work won’t always result in higher-quality performance, it will enhance how other co-workers feel in the workplace. Some ways a positive attitude can affect the workplace are:

  • Team members may efficiently perform work as a group when they have a strong, optimistic attitude.
  • If the team has a positive mentality, they will be better able to manage difficult situations.
  • Knowing and having faith in your team to tackle a problem can help you deal with the stress that could accumulate within the workplace.
  • If an employee is positive and confident that everything will be fine, their fight, flight, or freeze response will not activate.

Some ways a negative attitude can affect the workplace are:

  • Unfortunately, employees who witness one individual behaving badly will likely follow suit.
  • An employee that demonstrates a negative attitude will have an unwillingness to collaborate and work in a team.
  • Reduced quality of work and work productivity.
  • Difficulty overcoming obstacles within the team.
  • A tense corporate culture.

All this being said, it is important to remember that everyone has bad days, and every employee and manager would agree that it is challenging to maintain a positive outlook on life all the time. But it should be emphasised that having a positive outlook when arriving for work each day will result in a more peaceful day and work environment.

The Different Types of Bad Attitudes in the Workplace

An employee’s poor attitude can manifest itself in a variety of ways in the workplace. As previously discussed, gossiping, conducting tasks carelessly, and arriving late to work are just a few characteristics of an employee with a negative attitude in the workplace. Each employer can determine what behaviour they believe equates to a negative attitude, but some things that you may notice are:

  • An employee choosing not to collaborate with others 
  • Arrogant about their performance  
  • Stubbornness, will not accept ideas or advice
  • Arriving to work late on a regular basis  
  • Irritable or aggressive towards management, co-workers, or clients
  • Gossiping
  • Taking credit for other people’s work
  • Misusing privileges 
  • Constantly using their electronic devices for personal use

If you notice any of the above behaviours in your workplace, it is critical that you address the employee or group of employees as soon as possible.

Potential reasons for a bad attitude in the workplace

You may be wondering why an employee may suddenly change from being positive, to negative. Some reasons may be:

  • Conflict between co-workers in the workplace
  • Personal issues or mental health issues
  • Stress from an increased workload or poor time management

Conflict between co-workers is a common reason for a negative attitude in the workplace. Conflict is defined as a clash between individuals caused by a difference in thought processes, attitudes, understanding, interests, requirements, and, in some cases, perceptions. Some common causes of conflict in the workplace are:

  • Poor communication. Every workplace relies on communication to complete tasks efficiently. Without clear and healthy communication, the workplace will begin to break down quickly.
  • Misunderstandings, especially in relation to policies and procedures.
  • Personal differences.

You can find more information on how to resolve conflict in the workplace here.

Our 9 top tips for dealing with an employee’s negative attitude

1. Call out the poor attitude or behaviour  

Pull the employee aside and have a conversation with them about what is expected of them in this workplace. Setting expectations at this stage is critical.

At HussetHR, we often use the analogy of a balloon and a dripping tap. If a balloon is attached to a dripping tap, the balloon will slowly fill up and eventually explode. You must therefore shut off the water as early as possible. The balloon cannot be put back together after it explodes. This is the same with negative attitudes in the workplace: you must deal with them early on. Often, if you leave it until it’s too late, there is no way to fix the negative impact it may have on your employees and the workplace.

2. Keep it professional

When confronting an employee about how they are behaving or performing, it is critical to do so in a professional manner. Some people thrive on conflict, so it is essential to keep your cool.

You should consider HR consulting  for assistance with this process and to accompany you to this meeting or contact HussetHR for advice.

3. Set clear standards in the workplace  

Clear workplace standards and expectations should be established at the start of employment, and employees should be reminded of these expectations on a regular basis. Company policies and standards are an excellent way to monitor an employee’s behaviour while also ensuring that employees understand the expected standards. As a manager, it is critical that you uphold these standards and model the types of positive attitudes that your employees should have. Take the lead!

4. Ensure you allow for open communication in the workplace 

It will help open communication within the workplace if your employees feel comfortable talking to you about their concerns at any time, rather than just during formal reviews. This means your employees will feel safe enough to tell you if a co-worker’s behaviour makes them uncomfortable. It can be difficult for employers to see negative attitudes in employees because they will often act differently around management. As a result, good relationships with your employees are essential so that they know they can come to you about anything.

It will also make it easier to have conversations with employees about potential negative attitudes.

5. Check-in Regularly  

Keep an eye on your employees; a negative attitude could be the result of personal or mental health issues that are interfering with their work life. If you notice an unusual change in your employee’s behaviour, talk to them, help where possible, and let them know they are not alone. There could be a simple solution that will help them feel better and thus improve their mood at work.

6. Hire positive people  

It is essential that you hire team members who uphold the same values as the workplace. You should strive for diversity in the workplace, but you should hire for shared values.

7. Ask questions

It is important to get to the root of the problem. There may be something going on in the workplace that is making your employee feel negative. When in conversation with them, make sure they are specific about what is causing this behaviour; this will assist you as an employer in attempting to find a solution that works for both parties.

8. Don’t be part of the problem  

As an employer or manager, it can be difficult not to let your employees’ negative attitudes affect you. Make certain that you do not engage in similar behaviours. This will only lead to the rest of your team losing faith in you as a leader. As previously stated, call out the negative behaviours and maintain your cool while working hard to find a solution that is fair to all parties involved.

9. Know when to say goodbye  

Sometimes an individual is simply not the right organisational fit. It is critical to recognise when it is time to redeploy an employee, whether to another team or to assist in redeploying them to a more suitable organisation. If this is the case, take the necessary steps to fairly terminate the employee from your company.

We also recommend that you consult with your human resources manager to determine the best course of action to ensure fairness, it is advisable to get experienced HR advice. You can contact HussetHR if you need advice on the best course of action.

The relationship between positive employee attitudes and workplace culture

When every employee has a positive attitude at work, there is a general sense that anything can be accomplished. It is a less stressful environment, and everyone comes together as one to bounce ideas off each other and work as a team. Positivity spreads! If your team has a positive attitude in the workplace, it will result in a better workplace environment and culture. As employees work together as a team, they will have a higher level of job satisfaction, resulting in increased productivity and performance.

It is your responsibility as an employer to monitor the behaviour of your employees. It is critical that you create a positive work environment to instil positive attitudes in your employees. You may not always be “as happy as Larry,” but strive to be as positive as you want your employees to be. It all begins with you and the environment you and your team create. 

hussetHR and workplace policies and expectations

Having a HR advisor available to assist you with setting out your workplace values and expectations can be beneficial for your organisation.

At HussetHR, we empower managers and employers to make informed decisions and support them in achieving their organisation’s goals. We can assist you with setting out your workplace standards, values, and policies and help you roll these out company wide.

We service a wide range of businesses that have benefited from our knowledge of creating and setting clear policies and expectations, and we have assisted many employers in this area. HussetHR can also assist you in creating an appropriate complaints and resolution policy, provide support to managers, and develop a workforce safety plan.

When determining the optimal solution for your company, it is advisable to get experienced HR advice. hussetHR is always available via phone or email and ready to advise you on the best course of action.

Call us today at 1300 487 738